Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Guns are not the biggest threat to schools

This article offers six strategies that will help schools with the biggest issues we face in dealing with school safety. 

I agree with the author in stating the following: "Keeping the first law of loss prevention in mind, it is worth remembering that unpleasant experiences should not be the driver of security policies and practices."  We need to be pro-active rather than reactive in establishing our preparedness policies and practices.  This includes making sure we train our staff and students to fidelity on our established policies and practices.  It also means that we hold staff accountable to these policies and procedures and don't allow them to prop open their doors or leave exterior doors open. 

Another  tidbit of information the article provided in terms of student anxiety was quite alarming.
"The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 50's, " psychologist Dr. Robert A Leahy wrote in 2008 article in Psychology Today.
We all know that higher levels of anxiety and stress equate to increased levels of acting out type of behaviors.  It is imperative that we update our knowledge on school security and build relationships with students and staff that will alert us about potential problems. 

We need to be more committed to making sure that our policies and practices are followed and we meet routinely to address issues or flaws in our plans to keep our schools safe.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

11 Components of a Secure School Front Entrance
Brad Spicer

Our front entrance is the only place that visitors are allowed to enter our school. I was hoping to find additional things that we could to do make our front entrance more secure within this article. Mr. Spicer provides eleven components in this article that can help to make a school more secure and prevent access to those who may present a threat to student safety. Mr. Spicer says that fencing should be used around the perimeter of a campus. Although a fence will not prevent individuals from entering the campus, it will certainly make them more noticeable as they cross it. We have a couple of areas at my school that could be easily fenced to restrict access, without making our campus feel like a prison. He also indicates that schools should have a single point of entry with all other access points being locked and not used for entry. Entry points should be monitored with a video camera and an intercom system that will allow school staff to communicate with visitors. Access points may also have electronic access controls so that staff members may enter using an entry pad, card reader, etc. Once visitors have entered the school facility, Mr. Spicer indicates that their arrival and departure should be strictly monitored using a quality visitor management program. Other components that are suggested include the use of a vestibule or double entry areas so that an initial door can be unlocked, allowing access to the office but not to the remainder of the school and a panic button that can be used to summons help from law enforcement. It is also recommends that door hardware be kept in good working order and that front entrances include as little glass as possible, as it is easy to breach. Lastly, Mr. Spicer indicates that school employees should continuously maintain a raised sense of awareness, especially during times such as arrival and dismissal of students.  Although the front entrance to my school is quite secure and visitors are managed fairly well, I found ideas from this article that could be very helpful. Although it wouldn’t be easily done, the idea of a double entrance seems to be a very good way to fully identify visitors before giving them full access to the school. Hopefully we can all continue to be cautious and aware, providing a safer school for our students and teachers.
Active Shooter Response
ALICE Training Institute

Many useful strategies for effective response to an active shooter in a school or workplace can be found at www.alicetraining.com. One article found on this website reminds us that ALICE is an acronym for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate. The article emphasizes that information should be shared clearly, and people should be empowered to make informed decisions based on their individual circumstances. When locking down, it is important to silence devices and barricade access points to the room as well as possible. At our school, most teachers have had conversations with students about how classroom entrances can be barricaded. However, this is difficult with our classroom doors because they all open outward because of fire code. Also, while in a lockdown, individuals should utilize their time and give consideration to what steps will be taken should an intruder breach the barricade. Accurate, real-time information is crucial during an active shooter situation. Individuals can make better informed decisions if they know the whereabouts of the intruder and whether the intruder appears to be working alone. This will allow individuals to assess the possibility of a safe evacuation. At my school, we try to share this information by text or email when possible. Individuals should consider strategies for countering an attack prior to finding themselves within an active shooter situation. Although the though of such a situation terrifies me, countering an attack could be last resort option between life and death for students and teachers. Students should be taught to create disruptive noises and movements that can be a distraction to the shooter, once the barrier is breached, reducing a shooter’s accuracy. Lastly, the article emphasizes that rally points should be determined during the planning phase so that there is a common meeting place in the event that evacuation is possible.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Getting to the Heart of Education and Listening to the Whole At-Risk Student


The above link is an article that appeared in the Fall, 2014, Journal of School Safety that is produced by NASRO.  This article has many useful tips for SROs, school administrators, and counselors for reaching at-risk youth in the school setting.  The initial thoughts on this topic come from the students themselves---which is always enlightening.  Then, the author offers insight on educating at-risk youth.  Great read!!

Note: This author was the keynote speaker at the 2014 NASRO School Safety Conference.    

Department of Homeland Security - School Safety


The Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with other agencies, offers training, resources, and other information that is of great value to practicing school administrators that are looking to make their school safer.

I have found the links on the DHS School Safety page on "Protecting Our Schools Infrastructure", "School Transportation Security Awareness", and "Preparing Your School for a Crisis" to be invaluable when updating school safety plans and preparing for crises in the school setting.

Jason Baker

Monday, December 1, 2014

School Safety Legal Issues and Laws


We all are familiar with school law and the legal issues in education. This article provides an overview of legal issues and laws pertaining to school safety that parents, guardians, and educators show be familiar with. Some of the topics of discussion include bullying, premises liability, First Amendment concerns, student codes of conduct/discipline policies, and school related product safety. Definitely a good read.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Our first Board meeting for the 2015 Conference will be Nov. 18, 2014, at 9:00 in Hoover, AL at the NASRO headquarters, which is located inside the Hoover Public Safety building (2020 Valleydale Road, Hoover, AL 35244.
This is also an opportunity for administrators who attended the 2014 conference to fulfill a PLU requirement.  Please pass along to those who may qualify .